By Viv Bartlett
‘A mine rich in gems of inestimable value’:
Experience from the Swindon Young People’s Empowerment Programme.
Many young people are beset by a host of fears, worries, anxieties and insecurities that make for superficial and discouraging relationships, lack of motivation, and confused, escapist or hedonistic lifestyle choices that can determine a future riddled with problems almost impossible to extricate oneself from; emotional responses appear uncontrollable, with frequent rage outbursts or overwhelming melancholy. Our affluent societies have seen a sharp increase in antisocial behaviour: alcohol and drug abuse, carrying a weapon in case of a fight, vandalism, general rowdiness in gangs, cruelty to animals, stealing, threatening behaviour and so on. Bullying or mobbing, teenage pregnancies, suicidal tendencies, rejection of education, family upheavals, eating disorders, depression and the like are all rising. There is increasing statistical evidence that society has a problem with its young that defies rectifying by established interventions.
For Viv Bartlett, the opportunity came in 2000 to join with a group of Bahá'ís in the United Kingdom to devise and pilot programmes for disaffected youngsters, and so the Swindon Young People’s Empowerment Programme (SYEP) came into being. The group eventually came to realize that these young people were ‘dispirited’ and that if at least the glimmerings of a healthy human spirit could be detected by them as possible within themselves, then they would be inspired to view the world and their lives in a more rewarding way. Huge successes were experienced over the years with over 1,000 dispirited, vulnerable youngsters who were referred to the Empowerment Programme by a growing number of primary and secondary schools in Swindon. These successes demanded that a book be written about the Programme.
The Programme focused on two ideas from key Bahá’í scriptures, as encapsulating all others – that the individual is full of potential, a ‘mine rich in gems of inestimable value’; and that individuals need to be focused on service to others. These are two sides of the same coin: we need to recognize that we have something to offer, and then understand that we can make a huge difference to the community. The journey towards this is however not simple.
Parents, carers, educators, and anyone interested in the well-being of young people will find in this book not only principles of nurturing a healthy human spirit in the young but also an array of successful, down-to-earth, practical ways of doing so.
About the author
Viv Bartlett has travelled widely lecturing on the ideas found in this book. He has spent a lifetime helping young people to nurture and release their personal potential for their own happiness and in service for the harmonious progress of society. His work as a teacher in secondary education, with young people in the voluntary sector and as a co-founder of the Swindon Young People’s Empowerment Programme (SYEP), as well as with his own children and as a foster carer has provided him the wealth of experience he draws on in Nurturing a Healthy Human Spirit in the Young.
George Ronald, Oxford
216 x 140 mm ( 8.5 x 5.5 ins)